Chicago Metropolitics: A Regional Agenda for Members of the U.S. Congress

Myron Orfield
Myron Orfield Former Brookings Expert

May 1, 1998

In 1996 the MacArthur Foundation released a report entitled “Chicago Regional Report” prepared by the Metropolitan Area Program (MAP), which showed patterns of fiscal and social stress that were common between different subregions in the Chicago metropolitan area. These maps were a graphic presentation of the fact that Chicago and many of its suburbs have more in common, and more need for a common solution to alleviate their problems, than policy makers might previously have thought.

“Chicago Metropolitics: A Regional Agenda for Members of the U.S. Congress” builds on the earlier MAP study by describing these economic and social trends in terms of Congressional districts. The additional information reveals who represents the most stressed communities, and who represents jurisdictions that could contribute more to a strong metropolitan area, thereby providing a catalyst for coalition building. It spells out clear policy options for Members seeking to strengthen Chicagoland—to the benefit of all of the region’s residents. While these maps point out clear winners and losers from the current imbalance that federal and state policies have created, it is important to point out that Chicago is, overall, a region in crisis. Beyond short-term calculations of political gain or loss, all the Members of the area delegation, and all their constituents, have a stake in solving that crisis.